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Rangers’ Kid Line restores team’s identity to avoid elimination

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Larry Brooks

The Rangers not only saved their season Wednesday night, they saved their good name with a rollicking, 5-3 Garden victory over the Penguins that staved off first-round playoff elimination while setting up a Game 6 confrontation in Pittsburgh on Friday. 

The Game 5 effort, personified by the battle level demonstrated by Ryan Lindgren’s gutty and punishing 19:34 of work after he missed the previous three matches with an undisclosed lower body issue, represented the essence of a Rangers team that racked up a 110-point season. 

Except this one was a byproduct of gristle rather than sizzle. The Rangers strapped on their hardhats and slipped into their Black-and-Blueshirts. They contested every loose puck and came away with enough of the one-on-one’s. 

They competed in front of both nets and drove pucks toward goaltender Louis Domingue effectively enough to break down the Penguins’ net-front coverage. That allowed them to score on four consecutive shots over a span of 7:42 bridging the second intermission and to go from a 2-0 deficit to a 4-3 lead. 

Who said that these were the moments in which the series clock struck midnight? Or did that come when Sidney Crosby left the ice for good with 6:50 remaining in the second period after having taken a hit up high from Jacob Trouba about four minutes earlier? It would be foolish to understate the magnitude of that loss within the loss for the Penguins. 

Alexis Lafreniere (middle) celebrates with Filip Chytil (left) after scoring in the second period.Alexis Lafreniere (middle) celebrates with Filip Chytil (left) after scoring in the second period. AP

It was still 2-0 when Crosby went to his team’s room with 5:43 to play in the second. It did not stay that way for long. The Blueshirts started their climb out of oblivion on Adam Fox’s drive through traffic that beat Domingue just 54 seconds later. 

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